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"Revenge" as a verb
We already have a word for that!
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2012/08/07
6:09pm
Bob Bridges
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I've compiled a list of topics to bring up on a slow day.  Here's the next one:  What's up with "revenge"?  It's a perfectly good noun, but lately I've been reading, here and there, that so-and-so intends to "revenge himself upon" another.

I don't mind coining new verbs, or adopting nouns or adjectives to fill in a gap.  But we already have a verb for this; it's "avenge".  The poor benighted ignorami who write this meant that such a one intends to avenge himself upon someone.

I have the same reaction (you've probably heard me complain about it already) to someone "reverencing" an ethical principle, or God.  In principle there's nothing wrong with turning a noun into a verb, but it's too late for this one; we can already revere God.  Same with "service" when we can "serve".  No doubt you'll think of others.

2012/08/08
4:41am
asusena Armenia
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The fact that "revenge" was used as a verb is a mere result of "CONVERSION", i.e. the process of turning a verb into a noun or  a noun into a verb, an adjective into verb or an adverb  and so forth. This process is also called zero affixation in linguistic literature which is proper to English word building. The latter, to the best of my knowledge, dates back to the end of Middle English period. Some vivid examples of conversion might be [hand]- noun and [ to hand]-verb, [present] – noun, and  [to present]- verb, [export] – noun, and [to export] -verb, etc.. However,  it turns out that the process of conversion or zero affixation is not plain sailing. Very often it is not clear which word is the input and which one is the output. This is really eye-catching to do research into.

As  far as [revenge] is concerned, I suppose that the verb [revenge] existed in the language long ago and  has  even got  a strong foothold in the language. Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary (OALD, 2006:1300) provides us with the following data for [revenge] as a verb:

PHR V. revenge yourself on sb/  be revenged on sb (literary) to punish or hurt sb because they have made you suffer: She vowed to be revenged on them all.


 Moreover, OALD (2006:90) also has it that avenge is mostly used as a verb and revenge – as a noun. However, "in more formal and literary English revenge can also be used as a verb.

I think that this also a development of the linguistic sign and a constant change in the word-stock of the English language.

2012/08/08
5:17am
asusena Armenia
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And I would recommend the following site on the topic:

 

http://www.phil.muni.cz/plonedata/wkaa/BSE/BSE_1969-08_Scan/BSE_08_27.pdf

 

By saying conversion, I meant mostly grammatical conversion. 

Another example which  is more unacceptable for me and which I came across  is the use of [to can]. How is that possible to use modal auxiliary [can] as a simple verb?

2012/08/08
6:47am
Bob Bridges
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I don't think I've ever read where someone wrote "to can", although come to think of it, it would be a natural mistake for someone who's learning English as a foreign language.  I agree, though, I can't think of any circumstances in which it would be right.

Unless—I just thought of this—it's the other verb "can", meaning to preserve.  Maybe the write intends to can peaches this afternoon.

Back in college, they taught us about "deponent" Greek verbs (my Greek teacher said the word originally meant "crippled", though I don't recognize that meaning in the Latin roots).  Deponent verbs are those that don't have all their forms; there may be no passive-voice form, or optative mood, whatever.  Someone who knows more about English grammar than I do may correct me, but I think of certain English words that way:  "Can", for example, has no subjunctive mood or future tense so if I want to change "we can do it" to the future I have to say "we will be able to do it".  Conversely "go" has no past tense; we say "went" instead (which I take it used to be the past tense of "wend", though we don't remember that now).

2012/08/08
9:39am
EmmettRedd
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Bob Bridges said


Unless—I just thought of this—it's the other verb "can", meaning to preserve.  Maybe the write intends to can peaches this afternoon.

The online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has the noun, can, much earlier, a1000, than the verb form, 1861. This was a conversion which took a long time.

2012/08/08
10:53am
Glenn
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Bob Bridges said
Conversely "go" has no past tense; we say "went" instead (which I take it used to be the past tense of "wend", though we don't remember that now).

You are right about the simple past forms. Strictly speaking, the past participle gone is not gone, and it is past tense.

The term I have always heard for the English forms is defective. Other common examples of defective verbs in English are must / to have to, beware

2012/08/13
9:14am
asusena Armenia
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Coming back to conversion, some other formations are also  unacceptable for  me. These include the verbs "to star-gaze and to fish-farm" My view is that they are 'ugly' formations and don't sound good. 

2012/08/13
2:48pm
Bob Bridges
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Asusena, I tend to agree that "fish-farm" makes an ugly verb; I wouldn't want to say that I fish-farm for a living.  On the other hand I wouldn't have the same objection to saying that I farm catfish, or tilapia.  

I don't feel the same about star-gazing; I would happily go out to star-gaze at night, in another part of country.  I think both our reactions, including that we differ, confirm that they're based solely on ugliness, as you say, rather than some other factor.

But I see a problem wrong with your saying these are examples of conversion.  Above you defined "conversion" as turning one part of speech into another—a noun into a verb, an adjective into a noun and so on—but that isn't quite what's happening here.  "Gaze" is already a verb; "star-gaze" is just adding the object.  And "farm" may have originally been a noun that was later turned into a verb by "conversion", but that happened long before anyone started talking about fish-farming.

2012/08/16
9:47am
asusena Armenia
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Thanks Bob for correcting me. I concur with you that the above-mentioned verbs are not a result of conversion. Nonetheless, I would say this is more than conversion. This is one step forward to a new linguistic phenomenon if not defined yet.

2012/08/16
11:48am
Bob Bridges
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asusena Yerevan, Armenia said
Thanks Bob for correcting me….

<Chuckle> Are you being facetious?  I must watch that.

There's a story I keep around for the purpose of reminding myself:

Someone wrote: I was walking down the street the other day, and ran across a friend I hadn't seen in ten years.  While we were back-slapping and glad-handing, he asked me "How've you been?  I've missed not seeing you."

Well, no, I said; you've missed seeing me.  Not seeing me is what you've been doing.

"I meant what I said", he responded a little cooly, "but I'd forgotten until now just why."

2012/08/16
1:22pm
Robert
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I heard a line in a movie that would make an apt reply: 'That's cold, bro !'
Seriously I am not sure which kind is more unpleasant, the right kind, which means you were wrong, or the wrong kind from misunderstanding? Maybe equally.
Generally correctings and correctors do favors to the world, no?

2012/08/25
9:35am
Bob Bridges
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I tend to think so.  Not everyone agrees.  I've tried to learn—finally started trying to learn—to judge when it's a good idea.  Within my own family we do it often, but I'm gradually becoming more tolerant with others.

(What's with the HTML button?  I just tried to use <strikeout> and all I got was a blank panel.)

2013/11/24
1:25am
asusena Armenia
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When I wrote "Thanks for correcting me ………..", I merely wanted to thank. In my mother tongue, Armenian, it's quite possible to say "thank you for correcting me (in Armenian: շնորհակալություն ինձ ուղղելու համար)" for really thanking a person for corrections or further clarifications. Later, I found out that the word 'correct' has negative connotation in English, and the phrase used by me is in a way a negative feedback. And I realized that I had put my ideas in a wrong way, and my previous post on the topic was senseless and a bit irrelevant. 

I am really sorry for sounding impolite.

2013/11/24
5:08am
RobertB
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Bob Bridges was making fun of his own habit of correcting people. I love his story above. Is he dead?  

2013/11/24
11:58am
Dick
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asusena Armenia said
When I wrote "Thanks for correcting me ………..", I merely wanted to thank. In my mother tongue, Armenian, it's quite possible to say "thank you for correcting me (in Armenian: շնորհակալություն ինձ ուղղելու համար)" for really thanking a person for corrections or further clarifications. Later, I found out that the word 'correct' has negative connotation in English, and the phrase used by me is in a way a negative feedback. And I realized that I had put my ideas in a wrong way, and my previous post on the topic was senseless and a bit irrelevant. 

I am really sorry for sounding impolite.

I do not think you sounded impolite or irrelevant. It seemed you misunderstood the origin of some words and Bob corrected you.  You thanked him for that correction.  It was all done very politely. I think when Bob used the word facetious he was being a bit self deprecating.  Now, I will politely correct you about the verb "correct."  It has no negative connotation except by people who do not like the be corrected.  It can also be negative if the correction is done impolitely.  But neither of these situations are connected with the word itself but with the attitudes of people involved.  I do not know Armenian but it sounds like both languages use it the same way.

 

2013/11/24
1:26pm
RobertB
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Language is a minefield and 'well said' is when you've gone a way and nothing has blown yet. 

2013/11/25
2:52pm
Bob Bridges
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Not dead, RobertB; thanks for asking.  I just haven't logged on in a while, knowing good and well that when I do, I'll start spending more time here than I can easily spare from my rightful work.  But once in a while someone responds to an old thread to which I'm subscribed, the email arrives in my In box and the old temptations arise again :-) .

Correct, I was making fun of myself—and also, asusena, I wasn't sure at the time whether you really enjoyed being corrected.  Most people, I find, who are working on their improvement of a new language really do appreciate it.  Not always in other contexts.

Dick wrote: ….["correct"] has no negative connotation except by people who do not like the be corrected.  It can also be negative if the correction is done impolitely.  But neither of these situations are connected with the word itself but with the attitudes of people involved.

I'm going to mostly agree but partly disagree with Dick.  Actually I agree with all of what he actually said; but I've found that in some American subcultures there are enough people who don't like to be corrected that it amounts to a consensus, or near-consensus.

I'm thinking especially of my migration south.  As a northern child I had certainly been trained not to offer such corrections to adults, but no one had ever taught me that it's impolite to correct the grammar, spelling or other such opinions of one's peers.  It was only when I moved south of the Mason-Dixon line that I encountered a large number of people who felt that such corrections, no matter how offered and to whom, are simply rude.

Other northerners and I have discussed this, and many of us feel it may be the result of the old War between the States.  However it came about, though, the common feeling (often put in so many words) seems to be "I'm a grown man now and I don't need anybody correcting how I talk".  I gather many southerners feel that only children should be corrected.  Most Northerners of my acquaintance shrug helplessly and with perhaps a little puzzlement at this response.

There are many things I love and admire about the South, but this, I feel, is one of their their cultural faults.

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